A Lesson in “Paying it Forward” From Superstorm Sandy

A bus full of members of the United Federation of Teachers drove from New York City last year to help residents of the Schoharie School District clean up after a catastrophic tropical storm. This year, a bus is headed in the other direction, part of relief efforts organized by upstate New York teachers. At least a dozen truckloads – some 20,000 pounds of relief supplies so far – have been gathered by teachers and educators’ groups and sent to Sandy-battered areas to the south.

It’s only fair, says Dick Iannuzzi of New York State United Teachers, because the help came from the other direction last year.

“A lot of people were helped a great deal in upstate New York by our sisters and brothers downstate during Irene and Lee, and this is their chance to pay them back.”

Initially, the shipments were of non-perishable food. They’ve now segued to necessities like diapers and cleaning supplies. And, as schools continue to open, Iannuzzi says backpacks and school supplies are being trucked in.

Dealing with missed school days and the impact on testing and the introduction of the Common Core evaluation system are issues that can wait for the moment, Iannuzzi says.

“Let’s just put that aside for now and let’s take care of our young people. Let’s get our schools up and running. Then those critical issues can come to the forefront, but not just yet.”

It is estimated that 450,000 students on Long Island lost from five to 10 days of class because of Sandy and the nor’easter that followed.

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